ILWACO — Cross-country teams from throughout the region ran through the woods behind Black Lake on Thursday, Sept. 29. Ilwaco had three of the top five runners in the high school boys’ race and four of the top 10 in the high school girls race, winning both events handily. The race began behind the football field and went into the woods, taking runners up and down hills and around cranberry bogs by Black Lake. Competitors included Astoria, Ocosta, North Beach, Willapa Valley, Adna and Raymond.

“I felt like I wanted to die throughout the whole race,” said Eliza Bannister, who nevertheless kept up a steady pace to finish in third place at 23:28. The trails were familiar to Bannister and her teammates, who regularly practice on them. “We probably had an advantage on other teams. We knew how many hills there were going to be; we were prepared.”

Marcos Mendoza was in second place as the first group of runners passed a dock and headed to a series of up-and-down hills along the southeast corner of the lake. Teammates Ben Brownlee and Daniel Whiting were close behind and still going strong. Mendoza faded somewhat down the stretch due to cramping.

“Ben and Daniel picked up the slack. It was a great team run,” Mendoza said. Whiting took second place, the best finish so far for the talented freshman, with a 19:42 time. Brownlee finished fourth in 19:53. Mendoza was fifth in 20:01.

Mendoza liked the wide paths that prevented congestion. “At a lot of courses we run, paths are real narrow, and you get stuck behind people. You don’t want to get stuck going at a slower pace,” he said.

Estella Sheldon finished sixth in the girls race, her highest placing so far in her freshman year, with a 25:18 time. Right behind her was Kaytlenn Whelden in seventh at 25:27, the first time in her freshman year she has finished in the top ten. Neither came close to a personal best time, though, on the slow, grueling course. Alex Carper was tenth at an even 26:00. Marissa Thompson was thirteenth at 26:59.

Freshman Tristan Trudell was eleventh in the boys’ race at 20:56, by far his highest placing and only 15 seconds off his personal best time.

There were over 50 runners in the boys field and over 40 in the girls field. The course was 5000 meters.

In the 1.3 mile middle school races, Ilwaco Middle School had several strong performances. In the boys’ race, Nate Hopkins took seventh at 10:18, Danner Tynkila ninth at 10:25. Tazlina Thomas was fifth in the girls’ race at 12:21, Haley Vargas seventh at 12:33, and Audrie Brito eighth at 12:40.

Lots of PBs at Nike Invite

Ilwaco’s cross country team participated in the Nike Twilight Invitational on Saturday, Oct. 1 at Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville and achieved many personal bests on the fast course.

Eliza Bannister finished 52nd in a field of 155 with a time of 21:53. Ilwaco’s other six runners in the girls varsity race were freshmen who set personal bests: Estella Sheldon (23:22), Kaytlenn Whelden (23:32), Dominique Bittner (24:26), Alex Carper (24:30), and Nisa Mendoza (25:39).

Daniel Whiting finished 72nd in a field of 198 in the boys race, with a personal best 18:13. It was the second straight race during the week in which he had Ilwaco’s best time. Ben Brownlee was 88th with an 18:26, followed by Marcos Mendoza with a season-best 18:27. John Glenn and Tristan Trudell both got in under 20 minutes at 19:59.4, both personal bests. Anderson Stoddard finished in 20:07 and Ghannon Whelden in 20:13, for two more personal bests.

In junior varsity race for juniors and seniors, Blake Hajdok, running his first race of the year, had a time of 20:45. Adam Rutherford finished in 20:46. Isabel Benenati had a season-best 24:47, and Maddy Chabot had a personal best 26:53. In the girls freshman and sophomore junior varsity race, freshman Carolyna Mendez took over a minute off her personal best to finish in 24:16, while Jessie Huntley-Stern finished in a season-best 32:57. In the boys underclassmen JV race, Cody Lowe finished in 20:17.

Four Naselle cross country runners went to the Nike Twilight Invitational at Cedarcrest Golf Course in Marysville Saturday, Oct. 1, participating in the girls open race. The race had a field of over 500 runners.

Comets sophomore Lia Willenbrock, a German exchange student in her first year of cross-country racing, had a personal best time of 25:03, best on the team and 333rd in the field. Teammate Rachel Disch finished in 25:49. Lindsay Hunt finished in 26:14. Micah Cenci had her best time in four career races at 26:46.

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the Comets participated in a three-mile 2B Central League meet at Kalama. The winding course included a jump over a puddle, a footbridge, and a narrow, steep, wooded trail. Disch finished twelfth in a field of 28 runners with a time of 28:34, with Willenbrock right behind her in 13th at 28:34. Hunt finished 17th at 29:06.

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